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Archive for 10. August 2019

Egypt is reforming its economy, but poverty is rising

Posted by hkarner - 10. August 2019

Date: 10-08-2019
Source: The Economist

Fast growth is not raising the incomes of the poor

Except for the glow of a mobile phone behind the watermelons, the fruit-and-vegetable shop on a busy Cairo street looks deserted. The owner says his wares are 25% more expensive than last summer. As prices rise, buyers skimp: regulars who used to buy a kilogram of fruit now settle for half. He keeps the lights off between shoppers to save a few pounds. There are no lights either at the butcher’s next door, who reckons revenues are down by 20%. “I sell a lot of bones for soup,” he says.

Last year Egypt vowed to halve poverty by 2020 and eliminate it by 2030. It is going in the wrong direction. On July 29th the national statistics agency released a long-delayed report on household finances. It found that 33% of Egypt’s 99m people were classified as poor last year, up from 28% in 2015. Even that dismal finding may not be dismal enough. The government has fixed the official poverty line at just 736 pounds ($45) a month, a figure that many economists say is too low. The World Bank said in April that 60% of Egyptians were “either poor or vulnerable”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A wave of pro-democracy protests and elections sweeps the east of Europe

Posted by hkarner - 10. August 2019

Date: 09-08-2019
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne
Subject: The eastern summer

Europe is preparing to mark 30 years since the fall of communism. On August 19th Angela Merkel will travel to Sopron. With Viktor Orban, Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister, she will commemorate the anniversary of a peace protest on the border between Hungary and Austria that helped chisel the first chink in the Iron Curtain. The event will have a grotesque quality: a German chancellor celebrating the rebirth of democracy alongside a leader who is systematically dismantling democratic institutions in his country. And it will doubtless lift the curtain on an autumn of commentary lamenting the failed promise of 1989. Expect doleful references to Europe’s new east-west cleavage and sardonic asides about the predicted “end of history”.

The images from Sopron will not do central and eastern Europe justice. Democracy and liberal values have indeed come under attack in the region. The Economist Intelligence Unit (a sister of The Economist) finds that since 2006 democracy has deteriorated more there than in any other part of the world. And yet there have been quite a few glints of hope—especially in the past few months. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Can Parliament stop no-deal?

Posted by hkarner - 10. August 2019

Date: 09-08-2019
Source: The Economist

The government claims MPs cannot stop Britain leaving the European Union on October 31st. Yet many are determined to try

In march the House of Commons rejected the idea of a no-deal Brexit by a handsome 43-vote margin. Yet this week Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s Svengali-like adviser, suggested that it was now too late for mps to stop Britain leaving without a deal on October 31st, the latest Brexit deadline. This position was echoed by a Downing Street spokesman and by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, who was previously strongly opposed to no-deal.

There are two parts to the argument. The first is that October 31st is now the default option, legally binding on both Britain and the eu. In the absence of some specific action, such as agreeing to another extension, Brexit will take place then. The second is that, given the imminence of the deadline, mps do not have enough power or time to prevent no-deal—unless the government co-operates. And Mr Johnson will not do that. Downing Street is threatening to force a no-deal Brexit even if the prime minister loses a no-confidence vote. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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All aboard the gravy train

Posted by hkarner - 10. August 2019

Date: 09-08-2019
Source: The Economist

A consulting firm founded by an outgoing commissioner tests the rules
Will they now be tightened?

Come november 1st, 17 of the 28 European commissioners, one per eu member state, will be thumbing through their Rolodexes in search of their next job. (The rest have either been nominated for another term or won seats in the European Parliament.) Germany’s outgoing commissioner, Günther Oettinger, has wasted no time. At the end of July news broke that he had founded a political-consulting firm in Hamburg, where he plans to work after leaving office.

Mr Oettinger’s foray into political consulting has provided a test case for rules on commissioners’ post-term activities, which were recently revamped by the current European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. The rules were tightened after his predecessor, José Manuel Barroso, who presided over the commission at the peak of the Greek sovereign-debt crisis, accepted a non-executive role at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank that is said to have profited from disguising the extent of Greece’s debt. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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